In our consulting business, we have to communicate with our clients on a daily basis. Of course we use e-mail and instant messaging, but we also have regular telephone meetings with one or more people.
Here are a few tips to make it go as smoothly as possible.
1/ Being on time
ve probably already noticed, meetings rarely start on time, even when everyone is working in the same room.
There is always a 5 / 10 minute beat by the time everyone arrives and settles in. This is even more true when you have to connect to a Skype, plug in a microphone, …
We therefore make it a point of honor to be hyper punctual, connected and available at the scheduled time.
It might not be enough to start the meeting on time but it won’t be your fault 🙂
The simple fact of always being on time is a real guarantee of seriousness and helps to reassure your customer who will not think that he is paying a provider who drinks cocktails on the beach in Thailand.
2/ Have a good internet connection
This is absolutely essential for good audio quality. From experience, it is necessary to have an internet speed of at least 1 MB/second in descending speed and 1 MB/second in ascending speed.
Downward speed is rarely a problem (otherwise you’ll really struggle to work)
Rising speed is more of a problem. In Turkey and Morocco where we have been for almost 3 months, the upload speed is around 0.1 mb/second. Very complicated to make telephone meetings in these conditions.
Fortunately, mobile networks (3G / 4G) are generally much faster and allow for trouble-free calls. So we switch from our wifi connection to our mobile connection when we need to make a call.
The ideal is to have a plan B in case of problem (one wifi connection and one mobile connection / two mobile connections, …).
In any case, having a good internet connection is your problem, not your client’s problem. You’re on your own 🙂
3/ Have good equipment
Don’t make the mistake of settling for the built-in microphone and speaker on your laptop.
Not only is the audio quality poor, but it may also generate echo (the sound of your interlocutor will pass back into your computer’s microphone and generate a loop).
There is no need to think about it, invest in quality equipment for your work material.
I prefer wireless headsets to have more freedom of movement. The Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones have incredible audio quality. The Apple Airpods are very small and perfectly suited to a nomadic lifestyle. Both devices are priceless, but the price goes away, the quality stays.
Keep a backup of standard wired headsets (such as Apple Earpods) in case Bluetooth is recalcitrant or you find yourself without a battery.
4/ Give priority to video conferencing
We may have all the tools to work efficiently at a distance, but never seeing your client remains a constraint.
Some studies say that 55% of communication is non-verbal (facial expression, body language, …).
Today, all laptops are equipped with a webcam. Using a videoconferencing solution will reduce this inconvenience. It’s also nice to see the person you’re talking to and will allow you to share your screen if you need to make a presentation.
To avoid however the times when you work in pyjamas 🙂
5/ Propose the right software solution
Unfortunately, many people remain unaccustomed to conference calls and do not have the appropriate hardware or software equipment.
At the beginning of our nomadic activity, no calls were made properly.
Even though we were 100% operational on our side, there was always a problem on the customer’s side.
Between the customer who did not have Skype installed, the one who couldn’t find his login and password, the one who couldn’t get his microphone to work, … The horror at each meeting!
It’s your role to propose the right solution to your client to make it work best.
For my part, here are the solutions I recommend:
A/ If I have only one interlocutor
Back to basics: I call him directly on his phone using my French virtual phone number. It costs me three times nothing and it’s completely transparent for my client who has nothing to install and doesn’t need any other hardware than his phone.
The ideal solution.
B/ If I want to do video conferencing
Skype works very well under two conditions: your customer has installed it and he remembers his credentials.
I promise you that you want to eliminate this part of randomness 🙂
The ideal solution for me is Appear.in It’s free (limited to 4 simultaneous interlocutors in the free version), there isn’thing to install (he uses his browser on computer or mobile) and your customer doesn’t need to register (you give him a simple sharing link, always the same).
NB: The solution is now called Whereby and I talk about it in detail in this article.
It’s simple and effective.
If your customer does not have headsets and the sound is null, you can even mute the sound, keep the picture and call him/her with the A/
With Appear.in, you can also share your screen (for this, you need to install a plugin on your browser, but this is done in one click).
C/ If you have several interlocutors in several locations
It gets more complicated 🙂
Skype or Appear.in aren’t really options, there will always be someone who does not have the right hardware.
Gotomeeting is an excellent solution (for a fee). A little bit on the same principle as Appear.in, you will be able to share a link (with an access code) for the visual aspect without having to install anything.
For audio, each speaker has a choice: if he or she is equipped, he or she can use a headset. If he isn’t, he can call a free phone number (with an access code) and use his phone as for a classic call.
An excellent solution.
EDIT: Hangouts Meet, in its paid version, offers the same functionality. It is now the solution I use most often.
These tips are relatively basic but if you follow them all, you will be more effective than 90% of your competitors, whether they are nomadic or not.
You will gain in professionalism in the eyes of your customers who will gradually forget that you are thousands of miles away.